How to run a successful blog: insights from 15 most popular blogs

Author: William Holeksa

It’s hard to believe that blogging was once a niche activity happening in the form of online journals and link catalogs. There’s no denying that blogging has come a long way from that. The rise of content aggregators such as Gizmodo or Huffington Post and popular bloggers such as Amber Clark, Tim Ferriss, and Michelle Gardner showed us that the digital holds much more potential than expected.

But today engaging with target audiences through written content alone is harder than ever. The competition is incredibly high. According to recent estimates, every day we see over 4 million new blog posts published across the web.

 

 

At the same time, search engines such as Google are working hard to implement increasingly complex algorithms that rank web content on features such as mobile friendliness, page structure, video integration, and the continually changing keyword optimization guidelines.

Did you know that you can distribute your content to thousands of global domains thanks to our content marketing platform?

Finally, there are social media which pushed many bloggers to branch out with their work into platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They do it to attract more organic buzz around their long-form text content.

Website analytics tools have become a commonplace among even casual hobby bloggers. They always keep an eye on metrics that explain page traffic, bounce rates, and social shares. Blog readers, on the other hand, want more relevant and personalized content.

In such an overcrowded market, it’s not enough to be proficient or enthusiastic to generate traffic. That’s why bloggers work so hard to draw consistent traffic to their platforms. Despite all these challenges, blogging is still a big part of content strategies that rely on data analytics, SEO, and UX.

It doesn’t matter what’s their sector; innovators in practically every industry leverage their blogs to attract audiences. They can be stay-at-home moms, digital marketers, thought leaders or entrepreneurs.

So why do some of them become successful while others slowly fade away and stop writing their blog?

One way to get some answers is by looking at the 50 most popular blogs that offer excellent content quality and enjoy a considerable volume of traffic.

The Content Marketing Institute recently conducted a research study where data was sourced from Alexa’s website rankings across categories such as sports, media, news, and lifestyle.

They combined raw statistics on page views, bounce rate, and stickiness with specific benchmarks to learn which websites carry the domain authority to qualify for their top 50 blogs list.

Here are some of the most important findings from the research that show what it takes to be a successful blogger today and how businesses can leverage content marketing strategies inspired by the success of bloggers in their niche.

The power of timely content

The power of timely content

 

Did you know that six out of the 10 most visited blogs in 2018 publish timely content relevant to their niche? Depending on their sector, these blogs cover anything from breaking celebrity gossip to cutting-edge technology.

Huffington Post founders once said that they believe their site’s popularity was founded on their ability to deliver real-time coverage in areas such as sports, politics, and entertainment. The traffic spikes that during significant events because audiences believe that the site will have the latest coverage ready.

 

Reacting to events as quickly as possible and offering commentary to major happenings that engage a lot of people in your niche is an excellent strategy for driving traffic and growing your blog.

However, don’t just jump on every latest trend. You don’t want to make the mistake of trying to leverage a current event to promote your brand without considering the bigger picture. Make sure that your content is always relevant to the main topic of your site and the interests of your audience. Always offer a unique perspective on the situation at hand. Otherwise, your content will quickly become irrelevant.

Scrolling design

 

It’s one thing to attract visitors to your site. Maintaining their attention is quite another challenge. Unless they stick around long enough actually to read your content, they’re not going to see any benefits from interacting with your brand. Unfortunately, a typical user will judge a site within a second and decide whether it’s worth scrolling down and engaging with the content or not.

Poor navigation is one of the most significant barriers to user retention. If a first-time user of your site has to spend more than a couple of seconds to find what they need, it’s very likely that they will go somewhere else.

That factor becomes even more critical if you consider that 1 million people engage with blog posts on mobile devices. You can only imagine how difficult it is to find and click on a link through the compressed mobile display. That’s why it’s essential that you optimize your content for these audiences and make sure that they can scroll to the information they need as comfortably as possible.

Building an online audience

Finding a niche for a business is often challenging. Just building an online platform where you share your thoughts isn’t enough. You want to be attracting high quality leads to your website who will follow your Calls-to-Action and complete tasks to go down the sales funnel.

First of all, you need to evaluate your niche. What is the total market size for that niche? If you want to build a brand in a highly saturated market such as beauty or lifestyle, gaining traction will be tough. However, if you manage to gain access to even a small proportion of a loyal readership in such a vertical, you’ll be looking at significant traffic.

Then there’s the other strategy where you build your blog around a small topic that in time might give you a greater chance at market domination.

The best way to approach the dilemma is balancing these two factors. The idea is that you will find a mainstream topic but also offer a unique perspective.

The Business Insider is an excellent example of that. How is it possible that they’ve managed to beat huge competitors and established brands like Forbes? That’s because they examined the current political, cultural, and industry issues through their specific financial perspective.

Clean up your blog

You rely on search engine crawlers to present your blog on the basis of what they think it’s about.

For example, if you’re running a blog about fashion, but recently you branched out into lifestyle, then Google might give less importance to new lifestyle content because it has already categorized your website as a fashion site.

To resolve that issue, you need a well-structured taxonomy of your site. Come up with a set of categories your blog will explore. You’ll be helping not only search engines but also readers to find relevant content within your site.

 

Never duplicate the same tag multiple times on the same article and make sure to keep your tags short. Finally, remember that tags aren’t keywords. You are not using tags to optimize for SEO. Instead, think of your audience and user intent. Feature terms that are relevant to their interests.

Multiply the value of your content

Repurpose your content to make sure that you gain maximum value out of whatever you write. Tim Ferriss is an excellent example of how content recycling works in practice. He can work a single piece of content in many different ways such as podcasts or supplementary blog posts that serve as an introduction to a topic.

Add to that social media snippets with content from these articles and podcasts to create new content for Facebook and Twitter. Content repurposing is the single most effective method for boosting the ROI off your content marketing campaigns.

Investing a lot of time and money in one content piece only makes sense if you’re able to repurpose it to serve the needs of your audience and boost your brand awareness without spamming your followers.

Make use of the comments section

How do you know whether the content you create is engaging? By looking at the comments section. It’s not enough to have a large number of users visiting your site. If you see activity in your comments section, you’re looking at a potential opportunity to create sustained engagement on the blog post.

Respond to feedback from your readers to show that you’re a real person who is invested in the topic and create authenticity around your brand. Note that visible user interest is also visible to other users and creates social proof around your writing. It also encourages other people to interact with you.

Finally, the comments section is a wonderful source of user research. The insights you gain from conversations with your readers will give you a direction for future content. All in all, there’s nothing more valuable in running a blog than direct interactions with your target audience.

Key takeaway

Building a successful content marketing strategy based on blogging is challenging, but these insights will help you invest reasonably and create a strategy for long-form text content that brings you optimal results and takes your brand to the next level.

Do you have any questions about running a successful blog?

Reach out to us in the comments; we’re want to start a conversation about blogging best practices for content marketing.

William Holeksa

Managing Director at Marketin9

With over 12 years of commercial experience SEO and Application Development and 8 years in Web Development, William is extremely passionate about IT, web security and data science.

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